President, Singapore Disability Sports Council
Ms Ku Geok Boon
Chief Executive Officer, SG Enable
Mrs Boon Ngee Sebastian
Senior Director (Grant Management), Tote Board
Distinguished guests and partners,
Beneficiaries, members, and staff of SDSC
Ladies and gentlemen
1. A very good morning to everyone. Thank you to Dr Teo-Koh and SDSC for inviting me, and it is indeed my pleasure and honour to be here today. I would like to begin by offering my heartiest congratulations to SDSC on the launch of your Lifelong Independence, Friendships and Empowerment mobile application (or the LIFE app in short).
SDSC’s Role in Championing Disability Sports
2. SDSC’s work has come a very long way since its beginnings in 1973, when it was jointly founded by the then- Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and eight disability organizations to promote awareness of sports and recreation for the Disability community. The work of SDSC has brought purpose and positivity to the lives of many persons with disabilities and their families.
- a. SDSC has gone from strength to strength – from organising the inaugural National Athletic Championships in 1973, to sending Singapore’s first contingent of athletes to the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul, and achieving Singapore’s best showing ever at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.
3. Today, SDSC has grown to become the national sports body for all persons with disabilities, aiming to transform their lives through sport and to support them in realising their potential.
4. The work of SDSC, and many others from the public, private and people sectors, has been instrumental in developing the broader sporting scene in Singapore, to provide more opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in sports through inclusive sport facilities and sport programmes. These include the annual Inclusive Sports Festivals, and the building of more inclusive gyms.
Leveraging Technology to Stay Connected and Active
5. Technology is a key enabler for persons with disabilities to lead independent lives and participate as equal members of our society.
6. Assistive devices such as screen readers, electronic communication boards, and motorised wheelchairs have been beneficial in helping to bridge the gap between a person’s condition and his or her participation in the community. This spans across areas such as education, employment, as well as in the growing areas of sports.
7. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disability sports community has had to be creative, by leveraging technology to respond to the ever-changing situation both in Singapore and globally.
- a. For instance, athletes and coaches had to adapt to virtual home-based training programmes, and training in bubbles. Social groups who enjoy playing sports together had to carry out their activities remotely. Outreach programmes and events have been shifted online where possible.
8. The launch of the LIFE app today is a key example of how technology can be harnessed to enable persons with disabilities to remain connected and to stay physically active. SDSC has worked with the disability community to co-create the application, with a beta version rolled out since 2020. I am very happy that the response to the application has been encouraging. Many who have downloaded the app agree that it is easy to navigate, and helps to raise awareness and improve the accessibility of disability sports.
9. While the COVID-19 situation has resulted in us being physically apart at times, we can still maintain our connections with one another and remain socially connected. We can continue to lead healthy and active lifestyles, where the LIFE app would help persons with disabilities and caregivers to stay connected and forge new relationships. The app allows for members of the public to be informed of the latest news in para sports and explore opportunities to get involved in para-sporting events in Singapore, while adhering to Safe Management Measures.
Spirit of SG Together
10. Sporting and recreational needs will continue to grow, as sports become an integral part of life for more persons with disabilities. Through the Disability Sports Master Plan, Sport Singapore has been working with many partners to provide better access and opportunities for persons with different abilities to participate in and enjoy sport.
11. Since its launch, SportSG has made many improvements to Singapore’s sporting hardware and software to cater to the needs of persons with disabilities.
- a. For example, our newer sports facilities such as Heartbeat@Bedok and Jurong Lake Gardens now have inclusive gym machines that feature pressure technology instead of regular weighted plates, which are gentler on muscles and joints. This enables persons with disabilities to use the machines with greater ease, and reduces the risk of injury.
- b. In the swimming pool facilities, ramps have been installed for easy access to wheelchair users. Sport Singapore plans to have all gyms remodelled to be inclusive gyms by 2026.
12. In terms of capability development, over 500 coaches as well as 1600 volunteers have undergone disability awareness and adaptive short courses. Riding on this momentum, SportSG will continue to work with our partners in the community to find more ways to expand and support access to sport.
13. With the support of SG Enable and the Tote Board, the renewed tranche of the Enabling Lives Initiative (ELI) grant will continue to support impactful and innovative solutions that improve the lives of persons with disabilities in independent living, realising their potential and connecting communities through sports and recreation.
14. The government will also continue to work with citizens, the disability community and other stakeholders, to hear perspectives from the ground, and to co-create policies and schemes to provide more effective and comprehensive support for disability sports, including the ongoing effort to develop the next Enabling Masterplan.
15. Sports keep us fit and healthy, exposes us to new experiences and friendships, and increases our sense of well-being. Let us all, as partners working together to better support persons with disabilities and their caregivers, make sports an integral part in our lives.
16. I would also like to send my well-wishes to our athletes participating in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games, and the 11th ASEAN Paralympic Games.
17. Lastly, a hearty congratulations to SDSC on the launch of the LIFE app today, and I wish everybody an enjoyable experience learning about and using the LIFE app.
18. Thank you very much.